Sky continue to commit to comedy

SKY Television Studios, London

Sky has commissioned three original comedy series to air next year.

“These comedy commissions are part of Sky’s commitment to increase its investment in original British and Irish content and builds on the successful comedy strand developed over the last two years. Recent highlights have included the BAFTA-nominated Stella, the RTS award-winning Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life, the British Comedy Award-winning Hunderby, the critically acclaimed A Young Doctor’s Notebook as well as popular returning series such as Mount Pleasant and Trollied.” – Sky

The first is Yonderland which sees the BAFTA award-winning team behind Horrible Histories arrive on Sky 1 for the first time. The show follows a 33-year-old mum who unexpectedly finds herself in an extraordinary world.

Matthew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Simon Farnaby, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond will all write and star in the series, which will also feature puppetry sequences from Baker Coogan, long-time collaborators with the Jim Henson Company.

“This brilliant team have created a really fresh, bold and original show,” comments Juliette Howell, Head of Television at Working Title Television. “We’re thrilled that it’s going to form part of Sky’s ambitious comedy output.”

Moone Boy is also set to return for its third series on Sky 1. The series will be filmed later this year, picking up the story of the imaginative Martin Moone (David Rawle) as he grows up in rural Ireland.

Written by Nick Vincent Murphy and Chris O’Dowd, the latter will also make his directorial debut with season 3. Honoured earlier this year with an IFTA Award, and filmed in Boyle, Ireland, the second series will launch on Sky 1 this autumn.

Sky’s Head of Comedy, Lucy Lumsden, comments: “Since we started on the comedy journey at Sky in 2010, we’ve established some of the most loved series across our four entertainment channels. We’re delighted to have contributed to the growth in genre across the industry, and we’re very proud to have brought our customers programmes that they’ve really taken to. The outstanding talent at the heart of these new programmes just shows how much more ambition we’ve got for comedy at Sky going forward. There’s a lot more we still want to do!”

In the space of three years, Sky’s comedy output has grown to incorporate six strong returning series on Sky 1 alone, alongside popular series and programmes on Sky Living, Sky Atlantic and Sky Arts.

Also announced is Mr Sloane, written and directed by Weide, and starring Nick Frost  as Jeremy Sloane, a button-down 1960’s man in crisis. Between his failed attempts at marriage, career success and even suicide, it’s fair to say that 1969 isn’t shaping up to be his year. But with a potential job opportunity on the horizon and the phone number of a prospective new love interest following a chance encounter in his local hardware store, could Mr Sloane’s luck be about to change?

The bittersweet romantic comedy represents the first original project for British television for multi-award winning writer, director and producer Weide, whose credits include several stateside hit series. Mr Sloane will air on Sky Atlantic in 2014.

“Nick is not only a very funny guy, but a very talented actor,” comments Weide. “I had no specific agenda to create a show for him, but out of the blue, an idea came to me that was entirely character-driven, and I immediately saw Nick as that character. I pitched it to him, and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

[Reported by Mike Watkins]